The power of talking
February 2nd marks Time to Talk Day – an annual campaign to end mental health stigma and discrimination.
Talking about mental health can feel difficult and it can be uncomfortable for many of us with mental health problems to reach out. But the small act of talking can make a big difference to someone suffering. There is no right or wrong way to talk about mental health. However, these tips will help guide you in how to talk to someone in a helpful way.
How to help someone talk about their feelings and emotions
Think about the location
When you talk to a person experiencing mental health problems, it may be easier for them to
talk side by side or whilst you’re doing an activity. Consider talking to the person whilst walking
or doing a puzzle together, instead of face to face which can feel overwhelming. If the person
still feels unable to talk, you could suggest they write their thoughts down on paper for you to
Be patient and listen
Not everyone will be ready to talk about their feelings and that’s OK. Although you may find it
unnatural, allow for silences in the conversation and be patient. Reassure the person there is no
judgement and you will be there for them when they are ready to talk.
Ask open-ended questions
Avoid closed questions that spark a yes or no response. Instead, opt for open, not leading
questions, such as “how do you feel about that?”, “how is this affecting you?” or “what can I do
to help you?”
Do not try to fix the person’s problem
Try to resist the urge to fix the person’s mental health problem. The best thing you can do in the
moment is be present and listen. Your emotional support is really important to that person.
Help in other ways
If the person is not ready to talk, there are other ways you can support them. Help in practical
ways such as picking up their food shop or cleaning their home.
Try this today.
Make space in your day to process your own thoughts.
It’s just as important to look after your own mental health as it is to support others. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, mark out some time in the day for yourself to process your thoughts, feelings or practise a short and simple breathing exercise.
And finally, our tip of the month; the one thing we ask you to do today if you do nothing else…
Spend as much time in daylight as possible. The days are starting to get longer and spring is on the horizon. But for now, we have to work a little harder to get the much-needed daylight we need. If you’re working from home and it’s possible to, put your desk near a window, draw the curtains or blinds as far as they’ll go and give those windows a good clean down so daylight can seep through. Schedule a break into your day, wrap up warm and take yourself outside.
Daylight, fresh air and spending time outside benefit our mental health by triggering the brain to release the hormone serotonin – helping us to feel calm, boost our mood and reduce anxiety.
Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Address: Chris, Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, Stirling, FK8 2SA
Email: email@example.com (response time – 24 hours)
Text SHOUT to 85258 for a free and confidential text support service
Mental Health Foundation
Cruse Bereavement Care
Prevention of young suicide (under 35yrs) Call: 0800 068 41 41
Text: 07860 039967
Nhs Drug Addiction www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/drug-addiction-getting-help
Alcoholics Anonymous www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk
Telephone: 0800 58 58 58
(5pm-midnight, 365 days a year)
Webchat: through the website (5pm-midnight, 365 days a year)
National Suicide Prevention Alliance
Stay Alive App and Website www.prevent-suicide.org.uk
The Listening Place: Face-to face support for those experiencing suicidal thoughts (https://listeningplace.org.uk).
Suicide Prevention UK: https://www.spuk.org.uk
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide: local support groups for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide. 0300 111 5065 (uk-sobs.org.uk)
Grassroots Suicide Prevention (https://prevent-suicide.org.uk/) – consists of downloadable resources, safety plans.